Colm Keane Capel Island 2017 Pb, 213pp, €14.99, ISBN 9780955913396
It is regrettable that rationalists generally have a knee-jerk reaction to the mention of ‘miracles’, usually refusing to acknowledge even the slightest possibility that there might be something of value behind the stories. Whatever they are, in their many forms, there is a surfeit of wellobserved accounts by sober and intelligent and very well-qualified observers and witnesses – and this book is a case in point.
Colm Keane presents a new collection of first-hand encounters with the Italian Capuchin monk Francesco Forgione (1887– 1968), canonised as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina in June 2002, more famous for his manifestations of all five stigmata. Padre Pio’s life, moods, opinions, piety and sense of humour are fleshed out in this highly readable portrait, as experienced by people who investigated, visited or stayed with him at the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo at Foggia.
Of interest to us are the many new and enlightening details about his phenomena; e.g. Fr Alessio (Pio’s assistant for six years) on seeing the stigmata: “They were horrible to look at. I had always wished to see them, but once I saw them, I prayed ‘God, don’t ever let me see them again.’ His hands were like those of a leper, they were so corroded.”
Other accounts testify to the saint’s bilocations, telepathy, and healings among other ‘gifts’, and his love of the Irish.